From Being Bold to Emotional Intelligence — Here’s Top Advice for Entering the Cybersecurity Field

Sponsored by Sonatype

Ellen Lynch Catlett and other participants of the Sonatype Swarm. Photo courtesy of Sonatype.

Ellen Lynch Catlett and other participants of the Sonatype Swarm. Photo courtesy of Sonatype.

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May 29, 2024 at 8:30PM UTC

Are you interested in joining the fast-growing and high-demand cybersecurity field? Want to know how to get your foot in the door and ace your interview for a cybersecurity position? If so, then Ellen Lynch Catlett is here to help! 

Catlett is a Senior Talent GTM Recruiter at Sonatype, a company with an industry-leading software supply chain management platform that empowers developers and security professionals at over 2,000 organizations. At Sonatype, Catlett uses her expertise to search, screen, and hire the best cybersecurity sales talent in the U.S.

For those looking to join the cybersecurity field, Catlett emphasizes the importance of being confident. “Be bold, know your value, and don't forget to speak up when needed,” she says. “Always position yourself as a continuous learner in your industry. People need to be coachable, so seek out feedback for self improvement; improving your craft is important. Also, change is not always comfortable — say yes to the project or the job, and lean into stretching outside your comfort zone.”

For more strategies on interviewing and joining the cybersecurity industry, read on…

To start, what’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t underestimate the importance of emotional intelligence. Relationships are often the key to your success. Building a network and strong partnerships with key influencers in your industry is important to overall career success.

Next, let’s discuss the job search process. Do you recommend that candidates reach out to current recruiters or employees before applying?

I do recommend that you reach out to recruiters and employees for information. Being in the Sales Recruiting space, I like to see that sort of extra effort from candidates. But, keep in mind that not all roles, recruiters, or companies have the bandwidth to respond to unsolicited outreach.

How do you suggest candidates prepare for an interview?

I cannot stress this enough: research the company. I am often shocked at the number of candidates who come to the interview without having done any research. That is a big red flag. If you haven't done your research, it means that you're not that interested or curious about the company. There’s plenty of information available, so take the time to learn about the company you have applied to. 

Moving on, let’s talk about the interview. What’s your go-to interview questions for all candidates?

First, I ask questions that help me understand their skills and if they have the skills and qualifications to do the job. Then, I like to understand the why — Why this job? Why are they looking for a new job? What are their general motivations?

What are the top qualities you look for when you’re interviewing a candidate for a role in your industry?

Personally, I look for:

  • Selling skills, which means a track record of successful sales.

  • The ability to mix being competitive with being coachable.

  • Having integrity and a willingness to learn.

What are your biggest tips for what NOT to do when interviewing at a company?

I would recommend that you not show up to an interview in your PJs or drinking a beer (yes, these are actual events that have happened!). Sonatype is a remote, casual environment, but as with any interview process, you should try to put your best foot forward.

Finally, as a recruiter, what are three things about Sonatype that you always make sure to highlight when talking to a candidate?

  1. Our core values are a driving force in everything that we do, and we demonstrate them  daily. 

  2. We are always growing, both individually and organizationally. We strive to create an environment of continuous improvement.

  3. We invented componentized software development and software supply chain management, and are changing how the world innovates through intelligent software development.

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